Feed on


After Easter Sunday breakfast at our Sevilla hotel, we cabbed to Hertz, and began the 250 kilometer drive to Granada.  I had been with my family in 1985, but with not much recollection other than seeing water throughout the Alhambra.

Unfortunately, the first water we saw in Granada was fairly heavy rain.  But when you have one day to visit this city, you don’t sit in your hotel room and watch Good Luck Charlie.  So, here we are at the Alhambra, in the Nasrid Palaces section, where we spent most of our time.


The Nasrid Palaces (Palacios Nazaries) were largely built during the 14th century.  They exemplify the high end design of the Moorish civilization of Al-Andalus, the Arabic name for the Iberian Peninsula.  From our friend Rick Steves, we learned that the colors all over the palaces, as per the Quran, have specific meanings, including red-blood, blue-heaven, green-oasis, and gold-wealth.  There is also text from the Quran throughout, in calligraphy, which apparently explains a lot about the Alhambra.  As well, we read that there are few pictures of humans or animals, which would be frowned on by the Islamic religion.

The Court of Myrtles…





















M&M in the Courtyard of the Lions (Patio de los Leones)…Rick says that the fountain was a gift from a leader of Granada’s large Jewish community, celebrating good relations with the sultan, and thus the lions “probably represent the 12 tribes of Israel.”



Next to the Nasrid Palaces is the Palacio de Carlos V (Palace of Charles V).  Signalling the victory of Christianity over Islam, Charles decided to build a royal residence in 1526, in a Muslim citadel that had been conquered by his grandparents, Ferdinand & Isabella.  Work on the project stopped during a Moor rebellion, and eventually was completely abandoned in 1637, thus leaving an unfinished roof.

Above the circular courtyard in the Palacio de Carlos V…


Ready for a break from endless touring, can’t really blame them…


We didn’t want to pay for staying at the Parador San Francisco, inside the Alhambra complex, but on a damp and darkening afternoon, we did enjoy the comfort of coffee and hot chocolate there after the palace tour.

We strolled through a nice park on the downhill walk to our “all suites” hotel, the Suites Gran Via 44, where Evelyn had secured a sweet deal, and from where we could easily venture all over town.

Our Barcelona friends, the Greens, with son Nico in Maggie’s class, reserved a table at Los Manueles, thumbs up in my view, for chicken, beef, tapas, etc.

On Monday, a school holiday, Easter Monday, we had the morning free to walk Granada, and we took advantage, first exploring the Alcaicería market, and then glancing inside the cathedral before deciding not to pay the entry fee.

Rain was light, and we felt there was time for the 30 minute climb, really a pleasant walk, up through the Albayzín neighborhood, the old Moorish quarter, to the San Nicolás Viewpoint (Mirador de San Nicolás).  Just before the rain really began to fall, the rain that soaks your clothes from top to bottom, outside to the skin, in about 30 seconds, we were able to enjoy the amazing view of the Alhambra.


The photos were snapped and we ducked into the church on the plaza and climbed the bell tower, while waiting for the rain to stop.


There was no escape, and no umbrellas, but why worry?  Thirty minutes later we were back at the hotel, changing into dry clothes, and then en route to the Sevilla airport, with a quick stop to pick up pizza for the car ride, at La Focacceria Siciliana in Granada, a definite thumbs up, but no seating.



If your family is Jewish and Christian, why not combine a trip to Israel with a Semana Santa trip to Sevilla?  Yes, Semana Santa (Holy Week) in southern Spain is a colossal fiesta, with mayhem during the few days leading up to Easter.  While Spain is close to 95% Catholic, we don’t notice it in Barcelona the way one does in more conservative Sevilla; of course Semana Santa takes the Catholic religion to a whole new level.

Less than a day of rest after returning from the Middle East we were back on our favorite Spanish low budget airline, Vueling, for the short flight from Barcelona to Sevilla.  We checked in on Thursday (April 17) morning at the Petit Palace Santa Cruz, part of a small chain, with at least one unique room per hotel that sleeps 5; we first tested the brand in Madrid last fall.

The real reason for the trip, and for not spending extra time in Israel, was that our friend Natasha Dalzell Martinez and her daughter Sofia, who is in Ella’s Hamlin class, were visiting Natasha’s second home, where she has spent much of her life.  There is no better way to visit a foreign city than to be hosted by a local.

Told to be dressed well, we quickly crossed town in our fine duds to meet them.





















After enjoying some jamon at the apartment of Natasha’s parents, we walked over to the Semana Santa parade route and found a place to observe.  Traditionally, women wear black dresses with mantillas (lace veils) on the Thursday ahead of Easter.  (We don’t know these ladies.)


Ella and Maggie with friend Sofia, at the Thursday procession on the streets of Sevilla…


Now, for the explanation of what we watched, at times on both Thursday and Friday.  First, the cofradías are essentially brotherhoods or churches, each with its own costume and procession, lasting at least 6 hours; Sofia is in a cofradía, and she marched on Friday.  Nazarenos are those wearing the hoods (capirotes); they are penitents, and are members of the various cofradías.  While it is a bit scary and seemingly wrong to us from the U.S., the costumes certainly have no evil meaning and have been a tradition for much longer than the despicable organization donning similar garb in our country; the capirote apparently symbolizes the desire to rise to or be closer to the heavens.  Many of the Nazarenos carry candles; as they walk, during pauses every few minutes, they lower them toward children who try to form as large a ball of wax as possible at the end of a stick.





















There is quality music, not happy notes, but the sound of sorrow, maybe as if someone has died (Jesus).


The floats (see below) are called pasos, and often each cofradía has two, one of the virgin, and the other Jesus.  We were told that they can weigh up to 5 tons. They are carried on the shoulders of costaleros (hidden underneath), very large men, particularly in the neck and shoulder area.  The slow walk while supporting the pasos must be quite a challenge, although there are legs under the pasos to allow for regular rests.  Still, one look at the sizable and reddened neck and shoulders of a costalero and you know the job is difficult.


After a couple of hours of watching on Thursday evening, Max, Maggie and I left for dinner and found Restaurante Altamire in one of those touristy squares (Plaza de Santa María la Blanca) that we all know to avoid if searching for quality and value.  As expected, the food was fair and the fare was pricey.

We stopped in to see our Barcelona friends the Swifts and Greens at their nearby hotel and then arrived back at ours after 11:00 p.m., expecting to see Evelyn and Ella, who had remained at the procession after our departure.  Sevilla isn’t easy to navigate and they arrived after midnight, taking 90 minutes for what should be a 10 minute walk, wandering through the maze of pedestrian-friendly but confusing Sevilla, at one point being directed to one of the other Petit Palace Hotels.

We began Friday morning meeting Natasha and Sofia at Iglesia del Salvador, the second largest church in Sevilla, completed in 1712 on the remains of what had been the main Sevilla mosque, and prior to that a Roman building.


We were then given a tour of the city, stopping for a drink in the Jewish quarter, with its very narrow streets and pleasant cafes.  There are just 20,000 Jews in Spain, out of a population of about 46 million.  In Sevilla’s Juderia, the Jewish Quarter, there was a pogrom in 1391, when thousands of Jews were killed or driven from their homes.  The Juderia soon became Barrio Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) as synagogues were converted to churches.  Similar events took place across Spain.  While Jews had been confined to specific neighborhoods before the 14th century, they had also been given protection by Spanish kings.  But, after 1391, the situation worsened over the next century and in the late 15th century, Ferdinand and Isabella ordered that all remaining Jews in Spain convert or leave; the Spanish Inquisition lasted over 300 years.


We were invited to lunch at Natasha’s parents’ house, where they served gazpacho, omelette, and a blood sausage pie, as well as various meats.  Then we were off to the procession, to see Sofia walk (although we didn’t recognize her).





















We headed to La Bodega de la Alfalfa for tapas, really good food at a reasonable price with a fun ambience.  But it was getting late; not sure if we will ever become accustomed to 10:00 p.m. Spanish dinners.


We kicked off Saturday morning with the Alcázar, using the Rick Steves book as our guide.  He states that it was “originally a 10th-century palace built for the governors of the local Moorish state, this building still functions as a royal palace…the oldest in use in Europe.”  He goes on to write that most of what we were seeing was a 14th-century rebuild by Moorish workmen for King Pedro I.  After reading these words to MEM, I quizzed them, asking “which king renovated the palace?”  Max looked up from wherever he was staring, glanced at the guidebook, and answered, “Rick Steves”?

At around that time, here is Max, enjoying the Alcázar’s smooth patio surface.


…in the palace gardens…


We liked this tapestry in the Alcázar showing Barcelona…


The cathedral in Sevilla is the 3rd largest church in Europe after St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s and the largest Gothic church anywhere according to King Rick Steves.  It was a converted mosque, which was torn down in 1401, with the cathedral built over the next century, opening in the early 16th century.

Columbus is buried behind MEM, inside the cathedral.





















We climbed the bell tower, part Moorish, part Christian (in the 16th century, Christians rebuilt the top of the tower), particularly interesting for its ramp, rather than stairway, to accommodate horses.

View from the top.


Perhaps our finest meal was at El Pimenton, where Max suggested we dine after gazing in from the street; while ordering our tapas, we found it ranked 38 of 1,438 on Trip Advisor and it certainly deserved a high ranking.

We strolled down to the river and napped briefly on the boardwalk, while Maggie modeled her new outfit.





















Walking back to our hotel, we found the bullring, the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, apparently the oldest bullring in the world, completed in the second half of the 18th century.  We missed a bullfight by one night, for better or worse; unlike in more liberal Catalunya, there are still bullfights held in the south of Spain.  Outside the bullring is a statue of Francisco Romero Lopez, better known as Curro Romero, a famous torero from Seville.


Often we have needed Italian food, and this was one of those times.  Great pizza and pasta at L’Oca Giuliva, #9 of 1,438 on Trip Advisor, followed up with churros and chocolate.

Spending extra time in Sevilla was a good move.  We had considered staying just two days but the additional hours allowed us to move at a less frenzied, less American pace.  On to Granada!




Not that we expected a cakewalk, but the trip across the border took a good hour of passport checking and payments in Israel, a security checkpoint in Israel, a quarter mile of walking, a security checkpoint in Jordan, and then a final passport check and payments in Jordan.


We were retrieved on the Jordan side by our guide, Sam, who gave us an overview of our itinerary while our documents were analyzed; a short time later, we found ourselves at the very nice Intercontinental Hotel in Aqaba, with a spectacular view of the Red Sea.


We hit the beach, and the boys integrated quickly, joining a futbol game.


A fine dinner at Ali Baba in Aqaba, and more beach time on the Red Sea the next morning.  From the sand, when looking southeast at Jordan, Saudi Arabia is not far, and looking southwest one can see neighboring Israel as well as Egypt, the land behind Maggie’s head.


Sam, our wonderful guide (UTA), picked us up midday, and we made our way to Wadi Rum, just a 60 kilometer or approximately one hour drive from Aqaba.  Wadi Rum has been occupied for thousands of years, mostly by Bedouins, and their important goat herds.  We were told that they were hunters, pastoralists, farmers and traders.  The locals “joined the Arab revolt forces under the leadership of King Faisal and fought along with Lawrence of Arabia during the Arab Revolt (1917/18) to fight the occupying Turkish and German armies.”  Of course, more recently, they are involved in the tourist industry, hosting groups like ours.

After lunch in a Bedouin camp (set up for tourists, not sure how they really live), we split into two jeeps and crossed the desert.


The kids took a short camel ride…


…and Evelyn was ready to assist Lawrence of Arabia…


This steep desert hill was no match for youth…


Our security guy kept the girls in check…


…anDSC_0455d Max applied the local red clay…

It is 115 kilometers or 2-2.5 hours from Wadi Rum to Petra.  As we approached Petra, we stopped at a gift shop, owned by our guide’s company, why not?  In fact, I think the company owned the hotel where we stayed, Taybet Zaman, plenty comfortable with a nice courtyard and good open space, 12 kilometers from Petra central.

Maggie and Lauder outside our room at Taybet Zaman.  Fortunately, Maggie brought her two water bottles, filled with sand, back to Barcelona.


Petra was a city inhabited by the Nabateans, ancient Arab tribes who came here from the Arabian Peninsula more than 2,200 years ago.  They “became the undisputed masters of the region’s trade routes,” with a kingdom stretching from north-western Arabia up to Damascus.  However after many wars throughout the years, and with domination by various Greek and Roman factions, the Nabatean kingdom was “annexed” to the Roman Empire in 106 AD; Sam told us that when the Nabateans knew they were doomed, they left town without a fight.  Petra was gradually abandoned and after the 14th century “completely lost to the West,” until a Swiss traveler rediscovered it in 1812.  At its peak, Petra’s population was approximately 20,000.

We took in “Petra at Night”, essentially a walk into Petra, about 2 kilometers, but with the path lit by 2,000 candles.  At the end of the walk, the group of a couple of hundred people sit on the ground in front of the famous Treasury (Al-Khazneh) and listen to singing, chanting, and music, before exiting on the same path.  We did run into our Barcelona friends, the Gordons.


The next morning, Sam took us on a more formal Petra tour.  Unlike the prior evening, we rode horses down the first portion of the entry, but then walked the beautiful 1.2 kilometer “Siq” that leads into Petra; this corridor is interesting with its sacred sites and water channels; with very little rain, the Nabataeans were able to harness water through various pools and channels to service the relatively large population, a seemingly amazing feat 2,000 years ago.  The Siq ends with a jaw-dropping approach to the Treasury.

DSC_0492_02The massive Treasury structure, 30 meters wide and 43 meters high, was carved out of sandstone in the 1st century BC, as the tomb of an important Nabatean king, and possibly later as a temple. Staring at the Treasury, I tried to think about how this building could be engineered with tools from more than 2,000 years ago, and there is apparently no record of the tools or specific labor used to build it. As for the “Treasury” name, the story is that an Egyptian pharaoh hid his treasury here while pursuing the Israelites, and this is enhanced by the marks on the building from rifle shots.



We spent half the day in Petra, entering numerous other tombs built into the walls (the Royal Tombs among them), visiting the more than 2,000-year old theater, and walking the Colonnaded Street, before departing on donkeys.  Guide Sam is in the background.


Within a few hours we were back at the southern border, where the crossing was easier entering Israel, rather than departing.


Ahmet, our faithful Israel driver from days past, transported us back to Tel Aviv, an approximately 5-hour excursion.  Maggie began complaining about her stomach half way into the trip.  She eventually dozed off in the back of the bus, but 15 minutes from Tel Aviv, Ella screamed that Maggie was getting sick, the likely result of food poisoning; sorry to ruin your sweatshirt Mariner….

We were back at the Renaissance, where our trip began, and where we first checked in 8 days earlier with four bags and five people.  We still had just four bags.  But finally, with the knowledge that her bag was indeed in Israel after daily calls with El Al, Evelyn was able to direct the duffel to the hotel, at about 10:00 p.m., before our early morning departure.

Ex-Maggie, who spent some time in the Renaissance bathroom and went down for the count, and Evelyn her caregiver, we enjoyed dinner on the boardwalk behind the hotel.  Perhaps our biggest mistake was not adding an extra couple of days to explore Tel Aviv, particularly the gorgeous beach.  But we had to get to Sevilla…

Israel, Part II

We were booked for two nights at the Dan Panorama in Jerusalem, a perfect locale around the corner from its sister hotel, the King David, with really comfortable and ample sized rooms and very helpful staff.  My only issue was that the pool closed at 5:00 p.m., making no sense for tourists who want to spend the day visiting the city followed up by a dip in the water; the operating hours may change in the summer of course, but c’mon!

We had an excellent dinner at Caffit (large and tasty shareable salads, pastas) in the German Colony, a 15-minute walk from our hotel.  Our nice waitress was from L.A., and as the daughter of Zionists, had always wanted to live in Israel.


On Friday morning, despite not needing rental cars until Saturday, we had to retrieve the vehicles by noon, as many services shut down until Sunday morning.  Leaving the cars at the hotel, we joined Jerry and Ahmed on the blue bus to Yad Veshem, the Holocaust Memorial.  We left the girls in the courtyard and took in the intensity of the photographs, the videos, the stories, and the building itself.

Following Yad Veshem, here we are at the Mount of Olives, east of the Old City.


At the foot of the Mount of Olives sits the Church of All Nations, also known as the Basilica of the Agony.  Built in the 1920’s, this Roman Catholic Church houses a section of bedrock in the place where Jesus (allegedly) prayed before his arrest.


Before going inside the walls of the Old City, we visited the locale where the Last Supper “may have taken place.”  We entered the Old City a bit famished, and found a great hole in the wall for a lunch of hummus and falafel, Tala.

The quality of a meal is partly determined by available play space.


In the Christian Quarter of the Old City, we visited The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus was said to have been crucified and buried.


The Western Wall was fairly busy on this afternoon before the Sabbath and a few days before Passover.  Approaching the Wall, it was difficult not to feel the tremendous importance of this sight, the holiest for Jews, due to its being a support wall of the Temple Mount, and thus the Second Temple.  Men and women are separated, men to the left; I asked Max to say a meaningful prayer.


Ella inserted her wish into the Wall.


After 3 days touring with Jerry (left) and Ahmed in the blue van, we said goodbye.


In the evening, Max and I took our baseball gloves and ball out to a park near our Jerusalem hotel for a catch.  I felt as safe or safer than I would in a San Francisco park.

Later, we made our way down the hill and on to a lovely pedestrian walkway next to the old railway station, and dined nearby at The Culinary Workshop, same owner as the more known and highly recommended Machneyuda, which is closed on Friday nights.  We were kindly greeted with a glass of champagne and the food was fine; my steak had too much fat but the burgers were good.  The prior night’s venue, Caffit, would be my Jerusalem dinner recommendation.

Much of Jerusalem is shut down on the Sabbath, but the Israel Museum was open; we first entered the Shrine of the Book to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, actually not too exciting.  More so was the amazing model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period.  It shows the topography and architecture of ancient Jerusalem at its peak in 66 AD, just before its destruction by the Romans.


Also “open” on Saturdays is Bethlehem, which we found to be neither Christian nor Jewish; in fact, the city is more than two thirds Muslim today.  From the security gates, we felt as if we were entering a different world.


This Bethlehem graffiti says it all.  Here is a white dove wearing a bulletproof vest, delivering an olive branch.  But the offer for peace is supposedly not working, given the target on the chest of the dove?


We chose not to stop for coffee…
The birthplace of Jesus…
As seen in Bethlehem, much has changed since Israel gained independence in 1948.
On the way out, more quality graffiti…
As we waited in line to exit Bethlehem, we were approached countless times by an amusing (some said scary) kid; my own fault for smiling at his repeated chant of “one shekel, one shekel, one shekel.”

Of note, while we felt extremely safe all over Israel, Bethlehem may have taken this sense of security down a notch.

In the afternoon (lunched on gas station snacks), we crossed back through Jerusalem and east to the Dead Sea, stopping for a dip; while floating, the kids could essentially sit in my lap without pushing me underwater.  We checked in to the Ein Gedi Hotel.  This was convenient for Dead Sea and Masada access, and was on our way down to Eilat, where we would later access Jordan.

On Sunday morning, as we drove up the road to the Ein Gedi dining room, our rental car did not seem to be moving well.  When we parked, I discovered the flat tire.  Being the handy guy that I am, I sent the family off to breakfast and put on the spare.  Evelyn was impressed with the speed of my work…although she did not notice the bent car frame, a result of my placement of the jack in a weak spot.  “Really, I’ll have no problem changing this tire, enjoy your breakfast.”  Fortunately, I had trusted the words of the rental agent, who assured me that I needed to purchase insurance in Israel, no matter what credit card I was carrying.  When I returned the car in Eilat a few hours later, I learned that if not for the insurance, I would have been charged for the flat tire itself, as well as the frame.

Still somewhat on schedule, we started our Masada climb at 8:45 a.m., but the heat was strong almost from the start.  Even so, it only takes about an hour to climb the approximately 400 meter high mountain, and it is well worth the walk.

Evelyn and Maggie climbing Masada, with the Dead Sea in the distance…
Herod the Great, the Judean king who ruled between 37 BCE and 4 CE, built this palace complex in the style of the Romans.  After Herod, Romans were ruling Judaea, including Masada.  But at the beginning of the “Jewish Revolt” in 66, the Jews took over Masada “and many Jews settled there, particularly after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple by Titus in 70.”  In 73, the Romans attacked Masada in mass, and there was eventually no hope for the Jews.  So, all but a few (2 women, 5 children) decided to kill themselves, in the form of killing each other to the last man, who committed suicide.


Having done the heavy lifting, we rewarded ourselves with the cable car ride down and smoothies at the base, and then travelled onward to Eilat.  Here, we turned in our cars, and cabbed to the nearby Jordan border.




Israel, Part I

When checking in your baggage before your flight, always count the number of bag tags that are handed to you.

As expected, El Al demonstrated tight security at the Barcelona airport, asking us multiple questions about our forthcoming trip to Israel.  This all took place at one El Al counter, and each of our 5 bags was tagged with a special blue tape when the inquiry was completed.  Then we moved on to the next counter for the more “normal” process.  It was here where our luggage was officially checked in, or four of our five bags.  Unfortunately, we failed to notice that Evelyn’s duffel had not been tagged; of course I didn’t count the small stickers handed to us with our seat tickets.

After retrieving just four suitcases in Tel Aviv, we then realized the mistake, and now fast forward eight days to our final night, back in Tel Aviv after circling Israel and Jordan, when Evelyn’s bag finally arrived at our hotel.


Our friends from San Francisco (but living in Madrid), the Headricks, met us on April 9, the morning after our arrival at the Renaissance Tel Aviv (nice hotel and beautifully situated on the beach) before we headed off on our journey through Israel and Jordan.  A van pulled up, driven by Ahmed, with guide Jerry from Florida, a gentile married to an Israeli woman from Tel Aviv.

Jaffa was our first stop, just south of Tel Aviv.  While the below photo doesn’t show it, Jaffa clearly stands out as ancient, with its 4,000 year-old harbor, versus the very modern Tel Aviv proper, in the distance.


Jaffa was founded, according to the Hebrew Bible (and Lonely Planet), by Japheth, the son of Noah, and this port town became important during the time of Solomon (around 1000 BC), while he was building the First Temple in Jerusalem.  Jaffa fell in and out of multiple hands, including Assyrians, Persians, the Hellenistic Empire, Muslims, Christians, and Napoleon (pictured), briefly in 1799.


Moving north, Caesarea is all about the Roman ruins.  While we have seen our fair share of this period in history while in Spain, Caesarea is a beautiful setting on the coast and not far from Tel Aviv.  What is visible, including the theater, was completed under the reign of Herod in 10-9 BC, and named Caesarea in honor of Herod’s patron, Octavian Augustus Caesar.  After conquests by various parties, it was eventually destroyed and deserted around 1265.

On the Caesarea site…


…and on stage, where tourists tested their vocal chords and our girls tested their flexibility…


After consuming shawarma and falafel in the Haifa environs, we moved further north to Rosh Hanikra, on the Lebanon border, to observe the white cliffs and the grottos, formed by underground shocks and the sea pounding the soft chalk rocks over years and years.


On top of the hill is Lebanon…


…and through the hill is a tunnel, dug in 1943 to extend a Cairo-Haifa train line to Beirut; however, it is blocked off inside the mountain, right at the border point.

Back south again to the coastal town of Acre (Akko), where we visited the Knights’ Halls; Lonely Planet says this was the headquarters of the crusading Knights Hospitallers, but was buried under rubble in 1291.  From here we entered the Turkish bazaar…


Everything is a relatively short drive in Israel; Tel Aviv and Haifa are less than 100 kilometers apart.  The Crowne Plaza, where we stayed in Haifa, offered a nice view of the port…


… and the hotel was conveniently located near a good restaurant, Barbarossa, where we enjoyed the Barça vs Atlético Madrid semifinal Champions League match, which sadly fell in the wrong hands.

Day 2 of our tour commenced with a short stop for photos of the Bahá’í Gardens, part of the Bahá’í World Centre, headquarters of this fast growing religion, with 7 million followers, actually not far behind Judaism’s 14 million.





















The rest of the day was mostly about Christianity, (after all, I was the only 100% Jew in our group of 10) beginning with Nazareth and the Basilica of the Annunciation.  This 1960’s structure is considered by many to be on the site of Mary’s home, where the New Testament states that the Angel Gabriel appeared to tell Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God, known as the Annunciation.


Next was a paddle down the Jordan River.  We had actually expected kayaks, rather than rafts, so I am violating our internal agreement to recite the more romantic “we kayaked down the Jordan River.”  Still, we navigated a much anticipated “waterfall”; o.k., it was a 6-foot drop.

Lunch was overlooking the Sea of Galilee, with the Golan Heights and Syria in the distance, behind MEM.


On to Capernaum, apparently Jesus’s home base at Galilee, and where he recruited his first disciples, including St. Peter.  We were told to cover our legs, at least to the knees, for the holy sites (and not to pack heat)…


4th century synagogue in Capernaum…


Our gang with St. Peter in Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee in the background…DSC_0269

In the same area, we visited Tabgha, “where Jesus withdrew to frequently,” and where resided a large community of Christians of Jewish descent during the first four centuries.  Here we entered the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves & Fishes, a 1982 church built on the site of a 5th century Byzantine church; the original mosaic floor can still be seen.  Mosaics include a Nile meter “used for measuring the height of the Nile, and possibly also the Sea of Galilee.”


Also in Galilee, we stopped by the Mount of the Beatitudes; this church, built in 1937, is in the locale where it is believed that Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount.


Finally, we ended our Christian day up north with a visit to Yardenit, a baptismal site on the Jordan River, which the Marks and Headrick Jews and gentiles alike agreed was a waste of time.

Watching a couple of ladies before they dunked…


After a productive day moving from Haifa to Nazareth to the Jordan River (“kayaking”) to Christian sites surrounding the Sea of Galilee, we were still able to arrive in Jerusalem at a reasonable evening hour.  Now the trip really begins…


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